Elections 2019: Alan Coleman – Independent
Writes Ciaran Dineen
A veteran of local electoral politics, Councillor Alan Coleman will once again put himself forward to represent his constituents in just three weeks’ time. Alan himself grew up in Belgooly and ran his dairy farm there for many years and now one of his sons runs the business. Two years ago Alan moved a little bit more central inside the Bandon-Kinsale ward, and now lives in Innishannon, where his youngest son currently goes to school.
While he is making connections in his new community, Alan is best known within areas such as Belgooly, Riverstick, Nohoval, Ballymartle and Ballinhassig. For many years Alan was Chairman of Ballymartle GAA, only stepping away a couple of years ago. During that time Alan witnessed a golden age for the club, who have been very successful over the last decade or so. While he had previously run with Fianna Fáil for all of his electoral life, Alan now runs as an Independent candidate this May.
Journey to Politics:
Alan has been an elected representative in Cork County Council since 1991. Previous to that he had been actively involved in his own local community, where the Independent candidate was Secretary of the Riverstick Community Association back in the late 1980s. Believing that he could make the seamless transition from community activism to local representation, Alan ran for local elections for the first time with Fianna Fáil back in 1991. He was successful on his first attempt and his work over the years on behalf of his constituents seems to have paid off, as he has been re-elected to County Hall ever since.
In 2014, following his latest election to the Council, Alan was appointed Cork County Mayor, a major honour for the then Fianna Fáil Councillor. However, while still in office as Mayor, Alan decided to resign from the party, citing concerns over the party’s leadership, and subsequently ran as an Independent candidate in the 2016 General Election. Although he was unsuccessful on that occasion, Alan came away with 11.5% of first preference votes and does not rule out going for National elections again in the future.
On Representing his Rural Constituents and Changes Over Time:
Councillor Coleman explains that while a lot has changed in the ward, particularly on the eastern part of the constituency, he still maintains that speaking on behalf of those whom he represents is one of his most important responsibilities. “One aspect of the job that doesn’t change is that individual constituency work is always a priority and raising issues on constituent’s behalf is very important,” Alan tells The Carrigdhoun.
“Planning was always difficult but in more recent times it has become much more difficult. There is definitely a move at official level both locally and nationally to limit rural planning, there’s no doubt about that. I always say that County Councillors, whoever they are, are the only people in the system who try to support one-off rural housing. I have worked very hard to try and secure rural planning when and where it can happen and I can also see that communities are working more closely with the Councils now than in the past. I think the Councils have realised that they must be more embedded in communities than they were before.”
On Belgooly’s Water Quality and Speeding:
Belgooly’s water supply and quality has been an ongoing issue for some time now and residents in the area are becoming increasingly frustrated and angry. Having grown up in the village, Alan knows first-hand the impact that this is having on the community and has spearhead the lead for improvements.
“The water is on the home-stretch at this stage. The pipe network has been put in place to service Belgooly but hasn’t been commissioned. We had a big falling out with Irish Water over that but the contractor has been identified to do the work and only recently Irish Water have decided that they are going to ‘execute the contract’. I would expect the contract to be signed before the election in May. It has been a painful struggle for the people of Belgooly and it has been unacceptable with what they have gone through, however, thankfully there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Belgooly has also had significant issues with speeding in the area, with commuters going through the town at high speeds, perhaps not knowing that they are approaching a residential area. Speaking about the work the Resident’s Association has done in establishing speed activated cameras and conducting speed surveys, Alan says, “I nominated the Association for the Mayor’s Award only recently for the incredible work they did which involved highlighting the issue and coming up with a solution. They went from being a group banging on the door with a problem to become involved with the Gardaí and Cork County Council and are now stakeholders.”
On Developing Residential Areas:
It has been argued that Belgooly does not seem to identify with commuters as being a residential area, where people live and children play. This has been highlighted by members of the Council, who believe that developing the village would be a clear solution to reduce speeding incidents while also providing the area with a more community centred identity.
“One of my priorities over the next five years if elected would be to have Belgooly top of the list for village enhancement using the Village Renewal scheme”, Councillor Coleman tells The Carrigdhoun. “Belgooly needs to become a clear residential area and not just a stop-off on ‘Route 66’. It does not have the infrastructure that it needs like footpaths and seating or areas where people can congregate. Riverstick has got footpaths and things have tightened up in there and I think Belgooly needs all of that too. I have no hesitation in saying that Belgooly is the number one priority when it comes to the Renewal Scheme because it is right for it now at this stage.”
In the lead up to the elections on May 24th Alan can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, via mobile at 087 2341022 and on Facebook @alancolemancork.
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